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Savannah Food & Wine Festival expands fundraising with new foundation


Savannah Food & Wine Festival expands fundraising with new foundation

02 Nov 2016

The Savannah Food & Wine Festival returns for another jam-packed week of master classes, celebrity chef dinners, tastings and fundraisers featuring the best Savannah has to offer as well as some of the hottest wineries, spirit makers and chefs in the industry.

The festival takes place from Nov. 7-13, and according to festival co-founder Jan Gourley, the event makes a stronger economic impact every year. And it’s that impact and increased recognition to excellence that has allowed the festival to raise more than $150,000 in scholarships given out to local charities and partner charities.

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And raising money for charities is an important mission of the festival. The Savannah Food & Wine Festival is presented by the Tourism Leadership Council, a nonprofit that benefits educational opportunities for students in hospitality programs in the Coastal Empire. The TLC paired with Gourley’s AdFish Group four years ago to bring the week-long festival to Savannah.

“This year, we’ll be off the charts with some of the 100 percent fundraising we are doing,” Gourley says. “It’s exciting. We were able to create a new foundation, CHEF (Coastal Hospitality Education Foundation) and now that we have our own 501(c)(3) foundation, all the money we raise goes to our own foundation.

“... It’s amazing that we’ve grown up enough that we can have our own foundation,” she adds. “It’s a better way to actually give back to our community.”

Not only will this year’s festival raise scholarships to be distributed by CHEF, but several festival events will benefit other special charity partners. This year’s partner events include a festival kick-off dinner at The Florence from 6-10 p.m. Nov. 7, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting Seed Life Skills, Chef Hugh Acheson’s foundation; Whisky at The Whitman from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Nov. 8, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting The Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire; Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner from 6-10 p.m. Nov. 9 at Cohen’s Retreat benefiting the James Beard Foundation; Q-Masters, Chefs + Vets from 8-11 p.m. Nov. 11 at Service Brewing Co., with 100 percent of proceeds going to Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless/Tiny House Project initiative; and the Jazz & Bubbles Brunch on Nov. 13 to benefit the Savannah Harbor Foundation.

Gourley says the festival is starting to get more national recognition, which should add to the festival’s overall ability to give back. “Savannah is on the cusp of becoming recognized as a culinary scene as well as being known for creative cocktails.”

She added that November used to be a slow month for revenue in Savannah, but now with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and the SFWF, revenue is strong.

“October is the busiest time for the city, but we were impacted by the hurricane, so we are hoping November will make a strong impact on the economy and we are all praying for good weather.

“... We also can’t do what we do without our volunteers,” she adds. “We have a very small staff. The volunteers are a tremendous help and the only way we can put on the festival. We have 350 volunteer spots this year.”



For more information on the festival schedule, tickets and volunteer opportunities, go to